RIM CEOs Stepping Down: Jim Balsillie, Mike Lazaridis Leaving Top Posts

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by AppleScruff1, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. AppleScruff1 macrumors G3

    AppleScruff1

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    #1
    Research In Motion Ltd. co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are stepping down, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Reuters adds that Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens executive, took over as RIM CEO on Saturday. The Balsille-Lazaridis duo had been partnered together for 20 years.

    Bloomberg notes that the RIM shakeup comes after the pair failed to compete against tech giants Apple and Google. Poor sales saw the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's stock fall 75 percent last year.

    More from Reuters:

    Activist investors have clamored in recent months for a "transformational" leader who could revitalize RIM's product line and resuscitate its once cutting-edge image. But Heins, as a longtime lieutenant, may be seen as too close to the outgoing management to bring sweeping change.

    Barbara Stymiest, an independent board member who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over as chairman, a role that Lazaridis and Balsillie had also shared.

    The pair, who together built Lazaridis' 1985 start-up into a global business with $20 billion in sales last year, have weathered a storm of criticism in recent years as Apple's iPhone and the army of devices powered by Google's innovative Android system eclipsed their email-focused BlackBerry.


    "There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now," Lazaridis said in a hastily arranged interview at RIM's Waterloo headquarters, flanked by Balsillie and Heins and with Stymiest joining via telephone.

    The executives were keen to paint the shuffle as an orderly transition on a succession plan mapped out at least a year ago, and not a retreat in the face of a plummeting share price, shrinking U.S. market share and criticism of their products.

    Both Lazaridis and Balsillie - two of RIM's three largest shareholders with more than 5 percent each - will remain board members, with Lazaridis keeping a particularly active role as vice-chair and head of a newly created innovation committee.

    In the group interview announcing the change, Heins said his most immediate concern is to sell RIM's current lineup of BlackBerry 7 touchscreen devices, deliver on a promised software upgrade for its PlayBook tablet computer by February, and rally RIM's troops to launch the next-generation BlackBerry 10 phones later this year.

    In the longer term, Heins, previously one of RIM's chief operating officers, said he would push for more rigorous product development and place greater emphasis on executing the company's marketing plan and reaching out to customers.

    He said RIM, which suffered a damaging outage of much of its network last year, has embarked on a global search for a chief marketing officer to improve advertising and other communication with consumers. Consumers now account for the majority of RIM's sales even though the BlackBerry built its reputation as a business tool.

    For RIM critics, the focus on customers may seem long overdue. The company seemed blindsided by Apple's introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and was also slow to launch a competitor to the iPad. When its PlayBook tablet finally hit the market last spring, it was not equipped with RIM's trademark email service. The reviews were scathing, sales were anemic and the company has been forced to offer steep discounts.

    Heins said it would be wrong of RIM to focus on licensing its software or integrated email package, a strategy that many analysts and investors have thought the company might pursue. Even so, the new CEO said the company would certainly be open to discussions of that nature.

    With RIM's share price plummeting to eight-year lows, a flurry of speculation has bubbled to the surface in recent months that RIM was up for sale. Lazaridis and Balsillie were seen a major obstacles to any deal.

    Neither Lazaridis nor Basillie detailed any future plans outside RIM, with Lazaridis particularly eager to point out his still-active role as a confidante to the new CEO.

    Both have other interests outside of RIM - Lazaridis donated hundreds of millions of dollars to set up a theoretical physics institute attached to his alma mater, the University of Waterloo; Balsillie heads a think-tank in international governance and long dreamed of owning a NHL hockey franchise.

    Lazaridis said he plans to buy an additional $50 million of RIM shares on the open market.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...n-jim-balsillie-mike-lazaridis_n_1222605.html

    http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/22/rim-ceo-quits/

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news...ep-down-as-company-reboots-top-leadership.ars
     
  2. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #2
    Hopefully the new CEO (singular) will be able to revitalize the company. More competition is only good.
     
  3. jackc macrumors 65816

    jackc

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    #3
    They should just liquidate the company and call it a day. It's over.
     
  4. parapup macrumors 65816

    parapup

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    #4
    About time! Not that I think the new CEO will be able to easily turn around RIM - but at least there is some hope with Balsillie and Lazaridis gone that if they decide to sell it off they will get a fair price!
     
  5. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #5
    "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders"

    -Michael Dell, on the future of Apple in 1997
     
  6. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    This has been a long time coming. I still think the company can survive, they have a product that can be improved upon and made more relevant and competitive, none of this would of happened with the 'wonder twins' still leading the company. I hope RIM can make a go of it, it would be sad to see them disappear as competition is always a good thing.
     
  7. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #7
    The company is still profitable and has an extensive patent portfolio. It isn't The End of Times (TM) or firesale for quite a while now, but there needs to be considerable change in the structure and future outlook of the organization.
     
  8. *LTD*, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #8
    If you see a Steve Jobs-type that can make them relevant again (never mind restore their greatness), let us know. Because from where I'm sitting, the now former co-captains just handed the job to the cabin boy.
     
  9. ChazUK macrumors 603

    ChazUK

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    #10
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.0.2; en-gb; Galaxy Nexus Build/ICL53F) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30)

    Something needed to change. Hopefully, this is the start of a turnaround.
     
  10. Bernard SG macrumors 65816

    Bernard SG

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    #11
    It's too late for RIM to bounce in the smartphone market.
    Their chance, perhaps is to re-invent themselves as a cloud-service and enterprise-solutions company; with ideas that are really innovative, and not a re-hash of the wonky/clumsy approaches that dominate that market currently.
     
  11. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #12
    Sorry, didn't realise that the only great CEO was Steve Jobs. :roll eyes:

    Not that I'm saying that the 'cabin boy' will make a good CEO, I don't know. But Steve Jobs wasn't the only man in the world who could run a successful business.
     
  12. jmgregory1 macrumors 65816

    jmgregory1

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    #13
    These two "co-ceo's" should be put in jail for their criminal behavior in running RIM into the ground. They operated as if they were always on drugs, making crazy statements about what their company and products would/could do.

    Even their commenting on the release of their next os this year is a drug induced dream comment. I would hope the new CEO would at least be honest about where the company really is at. I agree that their best bet as a company may be to ditch the hardware and focus on business solutions - but it may be too late even for that to be a successful business plan.
     
  13. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #14
    Well, you beat me to it, but this is exactly what I was saying. I'm not saying the new CEO will lead RIM to an Apple-like comeback, but it can be done. A couple of years ago, Ford was on the verge of bankruptcy, and now they have come roaring back with good products and strong sales. Will RIM pull it off? My magic 8 ball says all signs point to no, but it's not always accurate.
     
  14. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #15
    Really, where does this perception of RIM doing so badly come from ? Their latest results show positive gains, again :

    http://press.rim.com/financial/release.jsp?id=5307

    Why do people keep saying RIM as if on the brink of extinction ? The smartphone market is exploding, RIM are growing, just not as fast as the market. Even Apple is starting to show signs of "slowing down" in smartphones (which is quite disingenuous when you think about it). More platforms are showing up, more handsets are being moved to these smart platforms. It's normal for the players involved to have to share the grounds a bit a more with the newer players/platforms entering the market.

    There is no big decline, there's just a big upswing for everyone.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #16
    Its long over due, and may be too late. RIM's market presence is eroding so fast, thanks to half baked product releases the new CEO may not have the tools on hand to turn that ship around.

    I mean they have to wait until late 2012 before they release a phone with their new OS on it, that just too long to wait given the iOS, Android and what could be WP7 gaining traction
     
  16. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #17
    Let me get this straight... no really, I can't.

    Seriously, RIM's "debacle" is mostly a media made affair, on the back of the consumer market entering the smartphone arena and RIM never really catering to that segment. The consumer market is just much bigger than the enterprise market where RIM is doing most of its business.

    The change in CEO is simply playing the "perception" game.
     
  17. decafjava macrumors 68000

    decafjava

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    #18
    Nevertheless this is a good thing for the company, though I agree with the points you made.

    I think MS would be well served by dumping Ballmer as well-though they are in a much better position both in the public perception as well as reality than RIM.
     
  18. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #19
    I think a big part of it is the stock price. Their stock price plummeted last year, from $59 to $14 at the end of the year. People see such a huge drop in stock price and think the company is tanking, despite the increase in revenue.

    I think a big part of it is what people see coming. There are several alternatives to Blackberry now coming to market in the enterprise sector. They offer BES style security and functionality, but don't lock the enterprise into proprietary devices. I think RIM has finally gotten the message, though, as they recently announced they will begin supporting other devices in Blackberry Enterprise Server.

    I do think they really needed to get rid of the co-CEOs, though. Every company needs one person to be the acknowledged leader, and having two people in that role just didn't send a strong message of leadership.
     
  19. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #20
    If you consider them plummeting in marketshare a media made affair, the numbers speak for themselves. Sure they shipped millions of phones, but if you compare the trend especially against android and iPhone the picture looks a whole lot grimmer.

    If it was just a media made affair as you postulate then the company was foolish to succumb to those who wished the two co-CEOs to be stripped of their position. Clearly things are not looking very well for RIM.
     
  20. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #21
    It's good if it gets the media off their backs. Just look at this thread to see how the media storm about RIM has damaged their reputation. You have a company here, showing growth and profits, making billions of dollars, yet all the posters here are claiming it's "dying"/"dead", no one the wiser to the illusion put up by the blogosphere.

    The lack of critical thinking and fact verification is astounding in modern discussion. Especially on a medium like the Internet, where fact checking can take seconds.

    ----------

    Market share is a percentage base. They are still shipping more and more units. They are growing on a unit basis.

    The market is just expanding faster, because of an explosion of platforms and the newer consumer segment.

    Really, you're usually much more enlightened than this... I posted a link to their financials, at least go read through it.
     
  21. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    #22
    While I think rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated, let's not kid ourselves. They have had some serious issues. Their app market is very small compared to competitors, their hardware hasn't been the best (especially their touchscreen phones), and the Playbook was a total disaster. Edit: forgot to add that they laid off 10 percent of their total workforce in mid-2011.

    And, on a personal level, having been a BES admin at a previous job, I can say that the interface for BES sucks! :)
     
  22. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #23
    Here's what I see. No matter how many more units are being sold, they are sliding backwards. While this attached image is US only it tells the tail of a company not selling any where near the other competitors and they are in danger of being marginalized.

    Secondly they are failing to capture any positive spin on new products. Their tablet is an utter failure partly due to the fact they for some whacky reason they decided not to include an email client on it. The fact that their new OS is delayed for months if not for the majority of 2012, means that there will be little to no apps.

    Yes, they are entrenched in the enterprise market but that is waning especially given their outage that impacted so many users.

    They are using a dated design, an outdated OS (at the moment) and cannot seem to figure out what their customers want as much as it seems apple, and android makers do.

    Media Spin? Nah, they just smell blood in the water and that blood is mostly self-inflicted.

    Edit:
    The attached comcore is not a aberration but has been the trend for a few years now. That is troubling as this did not sneak up on RIM. They've had plenty of opportunity to re-capture and innovate but they didn't
     

    Attached Files:

  23. barkomatic macrumors 68040

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    #24
    RIM is doing fine in non-U.S. markets and is profitable. They aren't in as dire a position now as Apple was in 1997 but its clear they need some new ideas--or at least the ability to implement some of the good ideas they have properly.

    The 64GB Playbook at the current price of $299 is actually a good value IMO. It's not as good as the iPad of course, but at that price it doesn't *have* to be. If RIM had released OS2 at the product launch instead of waiting 9 months then it would been lauded as a success and not a failure.

    If RIM can patch the software holes the PB has with OS2 and then follow that up with a solid hardware release at a reasonable price (cheaper than the iPad) then I think they will enjoy some success with it.

    I think a lot of RIM's problems have to do with marketing and follow through.
     
  24. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #25
    How is that different than what I said ? This is a perception game created by the media frenzy. You're buying into it.

    Is it really RIM sliding backwards or is it the market is expanding in areas RIM just doesn't cater to ?

    Enterprise smartphones were a niche. RIM caterred to this niche. Now the smartphone is not a niche product anymore, but RIM is still catering to their niche mostly.

    So while the percentages show RIM "sliding backwards", they are still growing and showing signs of a healthy company. But the media is spinning this into a "RIM is dying" spiral, creating investor unrest and reputation problems amongst the people not willing to look past the single "Market share!" number like you're presently doing.

    I'm not going to argue this more with you, we're saying the same thing, except you want to buy into the spin. I don't.
     

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